Happy Lunar New Year! Recipe: Steamed Fish with Ginger-Scallion Soy Sauce


Happy Lunar New Year! It’s the Year of the Dog.  People born in the years 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 and 2018 fall under this Chinese Zodiac sign.  People born under this sign are said to exhibit loyalty and honesty and be procrastinators.  Using my brother as an example, this is accurate!

While I didn’t grow up knowing too many of the traditions of the Chinese New Year, food and family have always been central to these celebrations.

A dish that you will almost always find on the table is a whole cooked fish — the Chinese word for fish, “yu,” is a homonym for another word that means “prosperity.” Keeping the head and tail intact is key: It ensures a good start and finish to the year.

Good Luck Steamed Fish With Ginger Soy Sauce– The Doctor’s Spicebox

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

1 whole fish, such as black sea bass or red snapper, about 1 1/2 pounds, gutted and scaled
A few pinches of both salt and pepper
2 tablespoons peeled ginger, in very fine slivers
1 bunch scallions, cut on the bias in 3-inch lengths
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 bunch cilantro


  1. Rinse fish with cold water, pat dry and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Place half of the sliced ginger inside and top with the remaining slices.
  2. Place fish on a heatproof platter or shallow baking dish. (Dish must be slightly smaller than inside dimensions of steamer.)
  3. Whisk together wine, soy sauce and sesame oil. Pour over fish.
  4. Set up steamer with 3 inches of water in the bottom, then set rack 1 inch over water. Bring water to a rapid boil.
  5. Place fish, still on platter, on rack and cover with lid. (If using a bamboo steamer, cover top with a dish towel to retain steam.) Steam fish for 10 to 12 minutes, until just done. Flesh should look opaque, and there should be no pink at the bone when probed gently with a paring knife. Carefully remove platter from steamer.
  6. Meanwhile, place a skillet or wok over high heat and add vegetable oil. When oil looks hazy, add garlic and scallions and toss to coat. Sprinkle lightly with salt and stir-fry until wilted, about a minute. Take off heat.
  7. To serve, scatter scallions and garlic over fish and top liberally with cilantro sprigs. Serve pieces of fish over steamed rice and spoon pan juices over each serving.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Calories: 265
Carbohydrates: 1 g
Fat: 8 g
Protein: 45 g
Sodium: 238 mg
Sugar: 0 g

For other Lunar/Chinese New Year posts and recipes:

Lots of dumplings!

Turkey and Kale

Shrimp (Har Gao)

Hot pot, my family’s tradition

Images from San Francisco Chinatown 

Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year! Gong xi fa cai!  

If you’re interested in cooking with me in San Francisco, join me in the Thrive Kitchen at Kaiser Permanente, hands-on cooking classes with a different menu each month! Next week we’ll be celebrating African American History Month with a class on foods from the African diaspora. That class is sold out, but we’re registering now for 3/14 Eat Your Greens! Don’t miss your chance for a spot! Email SFHealthEd@kp.org for more info and to register. $30 KP Members, $40 Non-members.  And please join my health eating community on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/TheDoctorsSpicebox.

To your health!